Generational Conflicts and Activism – Missy Magazine

TEXT: Juri Wasenmüller
ILLUSTRATION: Xueh Magrini

Generational conflicts and the coming of age – two long-running topics that somehow pick up on almost everyone, because: Who has never had an argument with their parents about different life and values? There is friction between generations everywhere and in all social classes. The difference lies in the fact that the issues at stake are not just a lack of understanding of clothing styles or career decisions, but also different layers of intergenerational trauma. When parents and children do not understand each other because after a migration or an educational or class advancement there is no common social frame of reference and actually no longer a common language.

My texts are often about working through each other in migrant families, about expectations and reproaches in both directions, about breaks, but sometimes also about understanding or at least trying to see and hear one another.

Apart from the conflicts within families of origin – which are often complex enough to spend many years of therapy on – I also ask myself in media discourses and activism how understanding and exchange between different generations in (post-) migrant communities are could look. Because these relationships are not infrequently characterized by incomprehension and feelings of misunderstanding. The bottom line is that it is often about negotiating privileges, access and resources, which we also have to talk more about within migrant self-organizations and activist contexts.

The group of post-Soviet migrants in Germany is made up of (late) repatriates and Jewish quota refugees who migrated to Germany from the late 1980s onwards and who were largely given a German passport, albeit with increasing obstacles depending on the time of entry. Thirty years later there is a second generation who, like me, were born and raised in Germany. Because migration from the former Soviet Union is often portrayed in the media as something that was completed in the 1990s, there is less attention paid to the migration stories of those people who are arriving now: as students, to work or because they are fleeing their countries of origin. Many of them do not get a German passport.

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I am not interested in opening up a new block of thinking about these groups. Of course, they are not homogeneous and shared experiences or biographical overlaps do not per se lead to the same decisions and political beliefs. What I’m getting at are certain patterns:

The second generation, millennials and post-millennials, accuse their parent generation of adapting and over-adapting – a narrative that has also been used repeatedly in the media. They see the obfuscation and the unspeakable nature of their experiences of discrimination as a legacy of the 90s, a time when it was primarily a matter of arriving, working and becoming invisible for our parents. The accusation quickly falls that the generation that left the Soviet Union as adults are now apolitical in Germany, and if politically, then conservative. We younger people are annoyed by working through the stigma that “all Russians in Germany vote for the AfD”, and blame the older generation for it.

On the other hand, many first-generation migrants consider us post-migrant kids to be ungrateful, arrogant and often quite potato, although that is of course the last thing we want to hear. While a Russian crouch in front of a Lada classic car in Friedrichshain or a pose in sweatpants in front of a BMW on Sonnenallee means empowerment and the appropriation of a certain Postost Pride for some, others shake their heads at this embarrassing over-identification with a world they own have left for reasons. Why did you sometimes spend thirty years in Germany differentiating yourself from such images?

And that brings us to the topic of access, resources and privileges. What does it take to acquire a Gopnik or Gopnitza * style without being devalued, but instead even getting credits for it? Who can publicly criticize German integration and migration regimes without worrying about their own residence permit? Masha Beketova throws in the post “Marzahn Pride: queer counter-public or love letter to a phantasm” [1] the question of who would have the material and emotional resources and the time to organize politically in Germany. And who then also knows the right codes to connect with the scene? The text will appear in November in the anthology “Bite Back! Queer precarity, class and indivisible solidarity ”and provides a multi-layered analysis of the reception of Marzahn Pride – from outside and within the Russian-speaking community.

The last episode of the PostOstPride podcast was about the aforementioned Pride in Marzahn, which was held for the first time in 2020 by the queer Russian-speaking organization Quarteera and took place again on July 17, 2021. I spoke to Fabio Wasilewski about the fact that many queers who migrate as adults, e. B. First of all, celebrate the possibility of same-sex marriages in Germany and feel more free and secure than in their countries of origin.

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Denying them this experience if you grew up in Germany and do not know the reality of life elsewhere, or even making you jointly responsible for the annoying discourse about the “queer-friendly West”, leads to little more than confirming the dispute outlined above. The main problem here is that the stories of queer migrants are co-opted for the hypocritical dominance society discourse about the “LGTBIQ paradise Europe” – not that queer migrants make use of legal options such as marriage.

What often falls behind in the struggle for representation between the first and second generation is an honest exchange about the different political pasts before migration and the different realities of life afterwards. The lack of discussion about what growing up and socialization does to us in different places and in different societies means that worlds remain closed in both directions. While access to political scenes in Germany is made more difficult for the first generation of migrants due to a lack of knowledge of codes such as clothing or language and / or a lack of resources (see Beketova), it is not easy for the second, post-migrant generation from a distance, To immerse yourself in the political history of the places for which the term “home” is reserved in family memories – especially if you no longer speak the language of these places. In doing so, it might be possible to discover role models in these stories or answers to questions that people before us have asked themselves before.

Did post-Soviet migrants take part in political struggles in Germany in the 1990s? On which? How have Russian-speaking queers in Germany networked and organized in the past? I know little to nothing about it.

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Instead of discrediting each other in front of the arena of dominant social discourses, we should think about structures in which we can share access and knowledge about battles that have already been fought.

* The terms Gopnik / Gopnitza come (probably) from the Russian abbreviation ГОП: Городское Общежитие Пролетариата (German: GOP for “urban proletarian dormitory”). They are mostly used classically for young people who are associated with crime, alcohol, unemployment. At the same time, the Internet is full of appropriations of the Gopniki style (Adidas suit) and habit (“Russian squat”).

[1] The essay by Masha Beketova “Marzahn Pride: queer counter-public or love letter to a phantasm?”, In: Lia Becker / Atlanta Beyer / Katharina Pühl (eds.) “Bite Back! Queer precarity, class and indivisible solidarity, Edition Essamblage, is expected to appear in November 2021.

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